Happy new year, my dear readers!
I hope you had relaxing Christmas time and a smooth transition into the new year.
2008 has been a mixed year for me. End of 2007 and the first quarter or half of 2008 I worked a lot on the biggest Virtools VR Cluster. It's a 50-nodes cluster installed in a shopping mall in Berlin. When the cluster boots it's really impressive, feels like starting the engine of a space craft! It was a pretty intensive time. I did a lot of analysis, tests, refactoring, bug fixing and fine tuning and extensions. I had to do small iterations because the system had to run at daytime, giving me only the night time to test and deploy. Was not easy but I managed to complete the job for the customer, so that's very cool because it initially was a project from another company thus not my codes. For example, in one scenario, there was a serious out-of-sync for many character-animations and I wasn't sure if I was able to fix it. I had an idea and took a couple more days to go through the whole application changed plenty of places. I was very relieved and happy that it finally worked after that session (as I was running out of ideas hehehe ).
We also wrote a surveillance systems that automatically recovers the system when something fails. You need to know that the system runs like 10 hours a day, 6 days a week!!! The VR pack is a useful framework but very obviously not adjusted to these kind of tasks – so much missing or "sub-optimal" for this kind of scenarios. I had to develop a couple of tools and plugins to facilitate surveillance, debugging and development. It's easy to see how much more sophisticated tools would speed up the production by a large chunk. Anyways, this is something I actually wanted to talk about in a separate posting, but never had the time to do some – besides that I unfortunately have no real good pics of it.
Actually there are plenty of things I want to blog about, but it always takes a lot of time! There was a moment where I only posted some news I picked up here and there and the amount of comments seemed to drop. (Btw. thanks a lot for those who take time to comment regularly!!). There are plenty of drafts in the backend but over time they get obsolete or never finished.
During the second half of 2008 I made some interesting prototyping but I can't talk about this right now. Besides some other projects, I made some research in how to have plenty more of animated characters in Virtools. Some things works fine out-of-the-box, some other needs custom plug-ins. I ll write about it one day.
Something else that hit me in 2008 is that I become ill. We still don't know that the cause is – I am much better, but still not totally ok. Some kind of burn-out is certainly part of the mix, thus one word of care for you: health is more important than wealth!!! Seriously, take breaks after work-intensive periods! (Or avoid them! hehe).
2009 is going to be an interesting year, I think. In a lot of ways … there are some "changes" on the horizon ….
Last year Dassault System re-picked up 3dvia Virtools (Dev) and formed a new team to work on release nr.5. Although many other big companies like Autodesk, Adobe or Microsoft have blogs and "lab-sites" where they openly speak about their roadmap and experiments, Dassault Systemes is pretty secretive about what will happen. Only rumors from time to time. Anyways, somewhen in the first half of the new year, we will know. Something pretty annoying is the amount of spam on the forum- the board needs upgrades in a more regular interval!
About mp there is still not much public. It's certainly a very interesting product but targets big budgets and either the experienced Virtools users need to hire at different, bigger companies or will not benefit from a new, modern architecture.
The team of Unity3D is working intensively on a PC version for their authoring system. I consider Unity3D as a real alternative to Virtools or Quest3D. Every packet has it strength and weaknesses, but it has now some years under the belts and looks pretty good compared to newcomers like DXStudio, Blade3D, Shiva3D and plenty of others. I think the PC version will create a big rush towards Unity3D – among them certainly Virtools users, too.
We will see what Autodesk will do, now that it has nearly a monopoly on 3D DCC tools. As already said in previous posting, that they announced to expand further into the market of real-time 3D tools. One of the first appearance might be "Project Newport " a
… real-time 3D story building technology for architectural visualization and presentation. With breakthrough game-engine technology, …
Maybe somebody saw the collaboration between Crytek and a French company that were using the Crisis engine for architectural purposes. Autodesk's Lab seems also to experiment with all the cool stuff we see: multitouch, augmented reality via marker cards and stereoscopy…
This brings me to the new topic: stereoscopic displays. During the first half of this decade I worked a couple of years as content producer for interactive, passive stereo wall/cave systems. Later, at bogengang, I developed GPU shaders that encoded the masks for autosterscopic displays from Sharp and SeeReal. At that time I found no indication that somebody else was doing it on the Graphics card – neither at conferences nor online. Some years later, at a conference about stereoscopy in Berlin, nearly every display provider had GPU accelerated solutions. Thus, although not yet mass market, it's constantly evolving – even though if pioneers like SeeReal went out of business in the mean while. It moves forward … slowly but progressively …. Now there are not only displays, photo-handys, webcams and other stuff from big companies but it is also said that most of the US cinemas have stereoscopic-ready hardware installed. Non-CG film producers are also starting to actually produce films: in Berlin you can see Batman (or so) in 3D. A friend of mine was there and told me that he liked it a lot. 2009 won't be a breakthrough year but it's smoothly coming to the masses. It might be that the breakthough will come via the cinemas.
Something I fear that won't change that much is politics. It's nearly always the same people involved. In addition to that lobbyism, networking and media/marketing campaigns have taken too much control over political decisions. They do B but say it's A, "selling" bad solutions for the overall society as the "premium" way. And that's where I started: premium. Once in a while some guy comes up with some new words that become trendy and then it's everywhere! In this case: premium insurances, premium cars, premiums nuts … I started to use it as running gag …
Well, my very "premium" wishes for the new year to all of you!